This post will share with you how to begin brewing kombucha tea in 7 easy steps. Read on to get your scoby on, Wildflowers.
I cannot say I have ever had kombucha. As a working mom of small children, it does feel as if I’m living under a rock sometimes but it has not been lost on me that this “booch” is THE hottest beverage in the grocery store, on Pinterest, etc. I have read a bit about its health benefits, it looks tasty and bubbly, but I haven’t dipped my toe into its yeasty waters yet. I am still on a sweet-tart shrub drinking kick but I think there might be something to these weird, slimy scoby kombucha brews.
I strive to bring you Wildflowers guidance on all things handmade, homemade and self-made. I like to think that it is a good quality of mine that I know how to ask an expert for help and that is exactly what I did for this post. The lovely Bree of Family As We Go blog has written the following post for a beginner who is brand new to the kombucha scene. There’s an easy, printable PDF that you can print off at the bottom too 🙂 Take it away, Bree!
Kombucha Brewing for Beginners in 7 Easy Steps
Have you heard the latest talk about kombucha? Yes, so have we. It has definitely been the new “hip” health fad to consume. I usually am not a fan of jumping on the latest health craze, but I feel kombucha is one to take a closer look at.
People have been home brewing and consuming kombucha for centuries with possible origins in China. It has been told to have so many great health benefits including liver support, detoxification, aiding digestion, and it can help maintain a healthy weight. We will not say it is the cure-all that some naturalists might claim, but once you have read the numerous health benefits and felt great from it, we definitely recommend trying it for yourself!
So why not just buy it at the store with all your other groceries? Well, if you get addicted to it and start drinking it daily as I do, you will realize since being the latest health fad, it is NOT CHEAP. I started calculating how easy and inexpensive it is to homebrew your own: once you have all the equipment, the recurring cost for a one-gallon brew is $2, which per serving is only fifteen cents!!! Or you can just shill out $3.49 for a store bought one.
Every kombucha is based around the living, slimy-looking scoby which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. There is an allotment of good organic scobys on the internet such as Amazon and Etsy for very reasonable prices. The great part about scobys is once you bought one, it will continue to produce a baby scoby each batch, so if you take good care of him, he will keep producing new ones!
So I will admit, I killed my first scoby! And it was like losing a pet, I was really sad! So after burying him with tears streaking down my cheeks, I… just kidding 🙂 I reordered a new one and gave myself a second chance.
I decided to do a green tea based kombucha. You can choose either a green, black, or oolang tea. If using white, rooibos, or herbal, you have to mix around 40%/60% with either one that they say to use for optimal scoby health. As I’ve said, it is all about the scoby! I decided to go with green tea since most research points to the higher health benefits of green opposed to black tea. Also the usual kombucha I opted to buy at the store was the GT’s Multigreen Kombucha which is green tea based, so knew I would like the flavor. I have tried both green and black, and to be perfectly honest, they really do not taste too different, so either would work.
Kombucha brewing is actually a very simple, easy process, and like most fermentation, depends on patience to let the bacteria and yeast do its job. Here are my steps to brewing and I will note where I messed up and killed my first scoby to hopefully save you from the pitiful death of your own. I have messed around with different fermentation time and tea amount, and have really enjoyed the flavor that is produced with the instructions below.
Seven Easy Steps to Brewing Kombucha:
- Make sure you have all the equipment (cleaned carefully since you are dealing with a healthy, live bacteria). You do not want the potential of bad bacteria to grow and cause harmful mold.
You will need:
A gallon glass jar (preferably with a large top opening for the scoby to grow).
Good organic sugar.
Black or green tea from a reputable source making sure the ingredient is camellia sinensis, proving it is real tea leaves. You can use either tea bags or loose leaf tea, I started with tea bags then switched to buying bulk loose leaf.
A healthy scoby, starter kombucha from a previous batch or a store bought plain kombucha like GT’s Original.
Have either a cheesecloth, paper towel, or kitchen towel. Since I do a secondary fermentation to produce a carbonated flavored kombucha, I also have mason jars (or you can use flip-top jars or anything airtight).
- Start with making your sweet tea. I brew about 1 quart (4 cups) of purified water. Do not use tap water. Since I used green tea, I stopped the heating of the water at 175ºF instead of boiling to not burn my tea leaves. There are many different amounts of tea you can use (every ‘booch maker has their unique take). I feel 1/2 cup loose leaf tea or 10 packets of tea make a good gallon batch. After putting the tea in, add 2 cups of sugar. *Usually it is just 1 cup of sugar, but for your first batch with a new scoby it is better to chunk him up with more sugar to make sure he survives. * Stir until the sugar has dissolved. You can either take the tea out after 10 minutes or leave it until the sweet tea is cool and ready for the next step.
***IMPORTANT! You must be patient and wait for the tea to cool to below 80 degrees or your scoby will die!!***
- Once the tea is at room temperature, you can put all the water in your CLEAN gallon glass jar. I got mine for pretty cheap at World Market, I was having trouble finding a large open mouth jar in normal grocery stores.
- Pour in the 1/2-1 cup starter kombucha, store-bought or from the previous batch (many times when you order a scoby online, the provider will send enough starter liquid to help preserve the scoby during shipment and to help in your first batch). ***Have at least 1 cup starter liquid to make sure the scoby will survive too.***I didn’t have enough on my first failed batch. If after pouring it there is still room in the jar, fill with more water until there are a few inches of space at the top.
- You are now ready to touch that weird creepy-looking scoby. Do not fret, it didn’t feel as slimy as I thought it would. Just handle carefully and make sure your hands are clean! And by all means do not have anti-bacterial soap on your hands; that would kill your poor bacterial-yeasty pal. Place the scoby gently on the top of the liquid mixture in the filled glass jar.
- Cover with a loose cloth and rubber band to keep in place. You are done with the hands-on part! Put in a room without direct sunlight and preferably one of the warmest rooms in your house. When in a cold area, it takes longer to ferment. I keep mine on top of our refrigerator where it stays a little warmer.
Fermentation is a great practice for me as it is helping with my patience. You have to wait anywhere from 7-15 days depending on how sweet you want the kombucha. I, being sugar-free these days, wanted the scoby to feast on most of the sugar so I am not drinking a sugar-filled drink. Anytime after 7 days you can put a straw in and get a taste. The longer you wait for the more tart the kombucha will be.
- In my preference, I have enjoyed a 10 day fermentation period. It is pretty tart and shows that most of the sugar was fed on by the scoby. When done, you need to transfer your finished kombucha to any type of container you want to store in the refrigerator with. At first, I was using my recycled store-bought kombucha bottles. Now I use quart size mason jars since I do a second fermentation.
Once you have done it all once, you just start at the beginning and do it all over again! If you want to learn the extremely easy second fermentation process so that you can flavor and carbonate your kombucha for an extra taste profile, go check out my Top 10 Flavorings and easy steps to doing it! The flavor combinations are endless!
Here’s a PDF of the 7 steps in a printable, quick-to-read list! No opt-in for this one, Wildflowers, just download and enjoy! Head over to Family As We Go to learn about secondary fermentation to create flavored, fizzy riffs on the basic ‘booch!
Bree and her husband Justin write the Family As We Go blog. A blog is a place where friends and family can join their journey towards reaching a healthy, simplistic, and self-sufficient lifestyle as individuals or a family unit. They enjoy researching and finding tricks and trades to make that possible. If you would like to see more you can go to www.familyaswego.com.
There you have it Wildflowers! Be sure to pin this baby to Pinterest; you’ll want to refer to it later when you are whipping up your own batch!